15 Minutes

“Anyone can do anything for 15 minutes.” This simple statement helps me to take control of my tasks and to share a great study practice with my students.


The “15 minutes” philosophy is fundamental to FlyLady.net‘s decluttering and home organization system. It applies equally to anything difficult, regardless of whether we want to do it. For example, it helps in creating a good habit (practicing piano), breaking a bad habit (watching cat videos), or getting started on a long task (grading final essays with a short turnaround time).

Like the Pomodoro time management strategy, “Anything for 15 Minutes” requires a timer and a plan. Having tried several, I prefer this timer, which has a large face, clips to clothes or a notebook, beeps loudly or buzzes unobtrusively or flashes silently or any combination of the three. Unlike the Pomodoro system (25 minutes on task, plus 5-minute break), my own variation has taught me to think, work AND relax in 15-minute chunks. If I find I’m on a productive roll when my timer buzzes at my waist, I reset it without even looking until I really need the 15-minute break. Fifteen minutes of cat videos releases those happy endorphins and I’ve learned I can knit a surprising amount in only 15 minutes.

What’s YOUR system?


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